Arthur Thompson (gangster)

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Arthur Thompson (September 1931 - 13 March 1993) known as "the Godfather",[1] was a notorious Glasgow-born gangster who made his mark on the streets of Scotland in the 1950s. He then went on to take charge of organised crime for over thirty years. He was born in September 1931[2] in the industrial area of Springburn, Glasgow.[3] He died in Glasgow on 13 March 1993 from natural causes – a heart attack[1] – at the age of 61. According to rumour and later newspaper reports, he did not die in his bed, but paramedics took his body there following his death.[4]

Thompson crime family[edit]

Thompson began his career as a money lender. He was said to crucify those who did not repay their debts, by nailing them to floors or doors.[5] Protection rackets soon followed. He then went on to invest his money into legitimate businesses, which grew more and more over the years, making him a very wealthy man. By the 1980s, the Thompson family had entered the drug trade, led by Thompson's son Arthur Jr.[6] It was rumoured that, by the 1990s, Thompson was earning some £100,000 a week as a loan shark (usurer).

Thompson was one of the most feared criminals in Scotland. In 1966, he narrowly escaped death when a bomb exploded under his car; his mother-in-law, in the passenger seat, was killed. Shortly afterwards, he spotted two men he suspected of the attack, Patrick Welsh and James Goldie, members of the rival Welsh family gang. He forced their van off the road by driving his own car directly at it – the van hit a lamp post and both men were killed. Thompson was charged with murder but not prosecuted as the police could find no witnesses who would testify.[6] In 1969, Thompson's wife Rita forced her way into the Welsh home and stabbed Patrick Welsh's wife in the chest; she was jailed for three years.[6]

The shooting of his son[edit]

On 18 August 1991 Thompson's son Arthur Jr (nicknamed "Fatboy")[4] died after being shot three times[4] outside the family home[1] "The Ponderosa".[4] A former enforcer for the Thompson family, Paul Ferris, was arrested, charged with the murder[7] and remanded to HM Prison Barlinnie.[8] On the day of Thompson Jr's funeral a car was found containing the bodies of two friends of Ferris, Robert Glover and Joe Hanlon, who were also suspected of involvement in his death and had been killed by gunshots to the back of the head[9] and up the anus.[6] Their bodies had been dumped on the route of Fatboy's funeral procession, so that his hearse passed their dead bodies. There was to be further drama that day as there was also a bomb scare at the cemetery where Thompson Jr was due to be buried.[4] At his trial in 1992, Paul Ferris was charged with Arthur Thompson Jr's murder but was found not guilty and released without charge.

Over 300 witnesses, including Thompson Sr,[10] were called to give evidence at a trial which lasted fifty four days and cost £4 million, at the time the longest[4] and most expensive trial in Scottish legal history.[10] Ferris claimed the younger Thompson had been shot by a hit man known as "The Apprentice".[7] He was acquitted of all charges.[10][11][12]

His other children[edit]

Thompson, Sr.'s daughter, Margaret, died from a drug overdose in 1989.[6]

Another son, Billy, was stabbed and seriously wounded 400 yards from the family home[1] in 2000, but survived.[1] Billy had recently served a prison sentence for possessing a harpoon gun.[1] He had been given two-and-a-half years, reduced on appeal to 18 months.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "BBC News, 4 August 2000". 4 August 2000. Retrieved 6 December 2007. 
  2. ^ The Last Godfather: The Life and Crimes of Arthur Thompson by Reg McKay, p. 7, pub Black & White Publishing, 2004. (ISBN 1-84502-030-8)
  3. ^ The Last Godfather: The Life and Crimes of Arthur Thompson, p. 12.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Daily Record, 19 October 2007". Archived from the original on 5 November 2007. Retrieved 6 December 2007. 
  5. ^ The Last Godfather: The Life and Crimes of Arthur Thompson, p. 54,
  6. ^ a b c d e Thompson, Tony (13 August 2000). "Observer, 13 August 2000". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "BBC News, 18 April 2002". 18 April 2002. Retrieved 6 December 2007. 
  8. ^ The Ferris Conspiracy, pp. 181—184.
  9. ^ Morton, James (1994). Gangland Volume 2. Warner Books. pp. 114–120. ISBN 0-7515-1406-3. 
  10. ^ a b c Nicola Stow (22 April 2005). "Fears gangland enforcer Ferris moving in on Capital cab trade". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 5 June 2007. 
  11. ^ Jeffrey, Robert (2006). Glasgow's Hard Men. Black & White Publishing. pp. 152–153. ISBN 1-84502-132-0. 
  12. ^ The Last Godfather: The Life and Crimes of Arthur Thompson, pp. 266—271.

Chasing Killers – Joe Jackson – ISBN 978-1-84596-406-1

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Ferris Conspiracy (12 March 2001, by Paul Ferris, with Reg McKay)

External links[edit]